The CFI and student pilot planned to conduct an instructional flight in the tandem-seat, tailwheel-equipped Bellanca 7ECA near San Jose, Calif. The student had a total flight experience of 20 hours, all of which was in the Bellanca. He had not soloed yet.
The reported wind was calm with 10 miles visibility. The student was seated in the front seat, and began the takeoff roll, his first for that day.
The takeoff roll was described by the CFI as “a little wiggly,” but was in accordance with the CFI’s experience and expectations for a student pilot in a tailwheel airplane.
Just after liftoff, the plane drifted off the right side of the 75-foot-wide runway. The CFI did not take over the controls, since he did not perceive any immediate hazards. He then felt the airplane “hit something.”
He took over the controls, landed the airplane on the remaining runway, and taxied to a parking spot.
A post-accident examination revealed that the fabric on the aft bottom fuselage was torn, and some of the fuselage structural tubing members were bent or broken.
Additional examination revealed that an airport taxiway sign was damaged, and that debris from the sign was scattered on the runway. Marks indicated that the airplane had struck the top of that sign.
The CFI reported that he never saw the sign during the veer off, due to his rear-seat location.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the CFI’s failure to correct for the student pilot’s loss of aircraft control in a timely manner during takeoff. Contributing to the accident was the instructor’s inability to see the taxiway sign from the rear seat.
NTSB Identification: WPR14CA070
This December 2013 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.